That spring, none other than Dr. Peter Gomes himself was Wooster's commencement address speaker.  He also happened to be personal friends with Jack Russell, who was only too happy to introduce me to him after the ceremonies.  He signed my copy of The Good Book, which sits proudly in my pastoral office today, a little worn now from repeat readings.  In that way, Professor Russell, always keen to lend an ear and a word of advice as I sorted through my call to the ministry, shaped my theology of God's radically inclusive love for humanity, as well as my hunger for deepening study, for years to come.

My senior year, I began to worship with a Presbyterian congregation in Wooster that was led by a liberal pastor, and at the same time I returned to the Wooster Christian Fellowship.  Somewhere in this odd juxtaposition, I found a place of creative tension.  I applied to Princeton Theological Seminary, because I felt as though it, too, would offer me an atmosphere of theological tension that afforded opportunities for growth.  Today, I am a left-leaning pastor serving a conservative congregation only 45 minutes from my hometown.  I continue to relish and learn from the tension between the two, as though my path of discipleship were a tightrope.  To keep my balance, I hold in one hand the locally prevailing conservative values that keep me from heresy, and in the other hand the Good News of God's great love for all of humanity.  Because I was afforded the opportunity to "leave home," I was able to "form a separate self."  Having done so, I have been able to return home and offer my life, as an adult individual, to the Lord.

 

Reverend Matthew Camlin, who received his M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Chester, West Virginia. 

See other articles in the series on "The Life and Death of Faith on Campus."